Bowl of cherries It’s that time of year. Everything is starting, and from nothing at all we are suddenly bubbling over with things to bring into the kitchen. The asparagus, as always, started us off, but we can only cut the spears for six weeks so that the plants have a chance to regenerate for next year’s crop.

It was shortly followed by the early lettuce from the greenhouse which I planned to have ready for Easter – amazingly, it was!

Now it’s the turn of the cherries. We always know when they are ready because “les voleurs” arrive in ever increasing numbers. We don’t mind too much – although we used to! A lot of the trees seem to have grown from pips dropped by the birds and these don’t taste great. The really deep red cherries are only on a couple of trees, and we grab these when we can. I am not a supporter of fiddling with nature, but if scientists insist on modifying genes and what have you, then perhaps they could sort out the genes in the birds so that they take the high cherries and leave the low ones for us. Now that would be really useful.

Although we eat most of what we pick, this year, if we pick enough, we’ll put some in jars and sterilise them so that we can enjoy them later in the year.

Bowl of strawberries And of course it’s strawberry time as well. We picked these this evening.

There are nearly two kilos there and we have been picking the same amount every two days for the past week. I don’t make jam as we don’t eat it in large enough quantities to make it worthwhile. However, even I can’t eat this amount of strawberries – well, not really and not without really bad consequences! – so I’ve started making a strawberry coulis which I freeze in plastic cups.

I’ve discovered the most amazing Delia Smith recipe for strawberry cheesecake ice cream. However, I prefer to make it plain and use the coulis to pour over afterwards. It really is delicious! If you want to try it you’ll find it in the Summer Collection – it involves roasted digestive biscuits and hazelnuts… are you sure you can resist?

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